I found a complete copy of this game for my SMS and it kinda just sat there for about a month. When I finally did play it, though, I couldn't put it down. It is a great 8-bit rpg, I'd say one of the best but some people would argue against that
. Very similar to the first dragon warrior.
I like how you mentioned the grinding for an hour to start the game... lol. It's so true. And there's only one enemy that you can kill at the beginning, making it way worse. It's like a beginner's trap - if you start the game, and just try to make your way to the next town without farming a level or two, there's about a 50% chance you'll run into a pack of enemies that will kill you in a matter of seconds.
Just as a hint for anyone else playing through the game - the dungeons are relentless. They get bigger and bigger and I eventually had to map them out so I wouldn't get endlessly lost, because, well, there's no in-game map. That's one thing I feel would turn people away from the game but... I play shmups... so... a mastery challenge is my thing!